Typically, the field of biobanking is brought up when discussing major medical breakthroughs in the treatment of everything from heart disease to different cancers. However, biobanking software is used in a variety of fields, including environmental research and more commonplace clinical testing. Because of the latter usage, biobanking may be able to help restore the reputation of a poor nation that has been rocked by scandal.
Since 2013, the island nation of Jamaica has been rocked by doping scandals that many in the international community claim are the result of poor testing. Known for their world-class athletes, including Olympic sprinter Usain Bolt, the discovery that many of Jamaica’s top runners were likely using performance-enhancing drugs threatened not only their competitive reputation, but also their self-image. Fortunately, the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission (JADCO) is now taking steps to circumvent this path: the organization recently announced that they will be adding blood testing measures by the end of 2015.
In the past, one of the major criticisms against Jamaica’s anti-doping efforts was that JADCO only tested athlete’s urine samples. To make matters worse, JADCO rarely tested top-tier athletes even before global events, like the Beijing and London Olympics. To correct this, the agency says that it will now be using a new sampling method to collect and test blood, which will be performed by officers trained through funding provided by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The agency will also be working with contracted phlebotomy companies, which will have strict sample management systems and software in place to track, protect and preserve the athlete’s biological data.
While JADCO waits for their efforts to be finalized, the agency has formed a partnership with the Institute National de la Recherche Scientifique in Canada, which has been accredited by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). Until the new regulations are instituted, athletes will use their Athlete Passport Management System to comply with international competitive standards on steroids and other prohibited substances. Can this sample management system help end doping among Jamaica’s athletes? Will the new blood testing requirements restore Jamaica’s competitive reputation? Only time will tell.